An activity about basic human rights. which asks whether there are ways of treating people which are always wrong, no matter what the situation.
1. People should be split into small groups of four or five and given three cards marked:
- in some cases
- in most cases
- in every case
They should be placed next to each other with plenty of space underneath them to place other cards.
2. Each group should be given a set of cards with some statements written on them. Some suggestions follow. Six or eight for each group. They should be shuffled and placed facing down. In turn they should be turned over and the group should discuss where to place them. They then put them underneath one of the three headings.
3. Once completed – or when a certain amount of time has passed – give each group member two blank cards. Ask them now to write two of their own statements about topics that could be categorized in this way. They should place them face down and shuffle. They are then read out, discussed and classified as before.
4. Once completed – or again, when a certain amount of time has passed – ask the groups to leave their statements on view. They should all move round to look at a neighbouring group’s responses. Within their group they can discuss whether there are any things they would not agree with. They should not move any of this new group’s cards, but make a note of any points they want to question.
5. If there are only two or three groups, each group can in turn ask the other any questions they have. The group who placed the cards should explain their thinking. The questioning group can then give their viewpoint.
(If more than four groups, then pair up groups for this part of the exercise).
6. Allow time for groups to look at the responses of remaining groups. However, there will be no discussion on this.
7. Back in original places, some questions can be asked and comments made. Groups could be asked:
- Was it easy or difficult to reach group agreement?
- Did they feel that each group member had an equal amount of speaking time?
- What does this have to say about what are essential (i.e. in every circumstance for every person) basic human rights?
- Does there seem to be agreement about what should be a right in every case?
- Does this teach anything about the task of defining and promoting human rights?
8. Variations are possible. People could be asked to do their own cards from the beginning, for example.
This activity could be used as an introductory one to the theme of human rights. Clearly, the exercise could be used in similar ways about many other topics also. Its value is in encouraging people to think and talk about an issue in an active, participatory manner.
- Killing is wrong
- People should be allowed to criticise the government
- Torture is wrong.
- People should be allowed to talk to and meet anyone they wish.
- It is wrong to keep someone as a slave.
- It is wrong to force a person to work.
- After a certain age people should be able to marry or live with anyone they wish
- A person accused of crime should be tried by someone who has nothing to do with the case.
- People should be allowed to say or write what they wish.
- People should be allowed to travel and leave their country if they wish.
- All people should be treated equally. It should not depend on such things as their sex, appearance or the country that they are from.
- Private letters and telephone calls should not be intercepted.
- People in prison should be told why they are being held.
- People should be allowed to have, or not have, whatever religious beliefs they wish.